This may seem odd when we're in the middle of a drought and are discussing the possibility of serious water rationing this coming summer, but a comprehensive study of every flood death in Texas in the past 55 years shows Texas has by far the most flood deaths on the country, and Bexar County has the most flood deaths during that period than any other county in Texas, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"Most of the fatalities in terms of numbers have been in what we call 'Flash Flood Alley,' which is along the Balcones Escarpment from Dallas to south of Bexar County," said Hatim Sharif, a professor of civil engineering at UTSA and the author of the report, published in National Hazards Review.
Sharif says there were 839 flood related fatalities in Texas in the past 55 years. That is more than three times the number in the number two state for flood fatalities, Pennsylvania.
"The interesting thing about Texas is it is the only state where we had flood fatalities every year," he said. "Every year of the 55 years except for 2011, the year we had that big drought."
Bexar County had the most flash flood deaths in the country during that period. Three people died in flash flooding in the county in 2013, although 2013 was not included in the research.
Sharif says the fast majority of people who died in floods since 1959 died when they attempted to drive into high water, and for that reason, he says the number of flood deaths is down substantially over the last several years, due to better forecasting, and also due to aggressive new campaigns.
"Turn around, don't drown campaign, the Texas flash flood coalition, the National Weather Service, the media," he said.
Sharif says the number of flood deaths in Texas can be reduced some more with a new campaign which convinces people not to drive at all during flood conditions.
"Shelter in place is one thing that I think should be included in the outreach campaign," he said.
Males are more than twice as likely to become flood fatality victims as females.